Bellingham, WA
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Day 1 || Day 2 || Day 3 || Day 4 || Day 5 || Day 6 || Day 7 || Day 8 || Day 9 || Day 10 || Day 11 || Day 12

John Muir Trail Trek Journal

-- Daily Stats

Day 1
5:45pm - 9:35pm
Day 2
7:45am - 6:30pm
Day 3
8:30am - 7:00pm
Day 4
7:45am - 5:45pm
Day 5
7:45am - 7:15pm
Day 6
8:20am - 4:00pm
Day 7
7:20am - 6:30pm
Day 8
7:45am - 7:45pm
Day 9
7:30am - 5:30pm
Day 10
7:20am - 5:40pm
Day 11
8:45am - 3:15pm
Day 12
6:45am - 11:45am
* Mileage
** Data collected using a Suunto X6 and Tom Harrison shaded-relief topographic maps


-- Day 1

  • Started: Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station
  • Ran into ranger 10 minutes down the trail
  • Brian and I had very TALL packs still (carrying some of the resupply)
  • Black beans and rice for dinner
  • Tried hiker's friend water filter for the first time in the field- looks promising, but I need to experiment further with attaching the filter securely to the bag.
  • Hiked after dark for about 1 ½ hours - slept without a tarp or net tent - no bugs!!
  • We slept with our heads downhill - I didn't like it!
  • Tracy and Shaen had an encounter with a bear - when Shaen turned over it ran away - and with a rodent, which ate through their net tent to try and get their food - they taped it up.
  • Ended: 6.8 Miles up Lyell Canyon and 1½ miles from Vogelsang Jct. (8,900')


-- Day 2

  • We took a lot longer to get ready than Tracy and Shaen - stopped a few minutes into hike for water (bugs had started coming out)
  • Stopped again for water and a snack 2/3 of the way up Donohue Pass - stopped at top and had a quick snack - let our sleeping quilt air out a bit - wind was chilly - not much snow, but a little.
  • Lightning storm/rain storm after meadow coming down from Donohue Pass - stopped in trees before Island Pass - met up with 3 guys hiking JMT. They asked how long we were going to take for the whole trail - met up with them again while we were resting at Thousand Island and they shouted to each other, "12 days, we're doing it in 11." Later we found out they were doing it in 3 weeks. We ended up doing it in 11.
  • Took our 1st bath of the trip in Thousand Island Lake; hiked past Ruby Lake & all the way around Garnet Lake (steep climb after lake) - Tracy and Shaen were stopped on rocks sitting in rain waiting.
  • Camped about 1 mile past top in a section filled with large granite slabs - good views of Mammoth - large snow bank right by where we camped
  • Chili and corn pasta for dinner.
  • Brian was asleep when I tried to set up the net tent
  • Ended: ½ mile before Laura Lake Jct (10,000')


-- Day 3

  • Most buggy day of whole trip
  • Shaen and Tracy still had to wait for us.
  • Downhill through nice section of trees - stopped at a little bridge to cook our breakfast and filter water (creek at west end of Shadow Lake )
  • Shaen was worried we wouldn't make it since we stopped for many breaks
  • Long downhill into Johnston Meadows - Brian and I stopped for a snack on a log in a very buggy section before Reds Meadow - Tracy and Shaen kept going.
  • Devils Postpile looked really cool from across the valley and a bit higher up than the last time we saw it
  • Very dusty trail - rinsed off in river after bridge
  • Stopped at Reds' Meadow store (which was not right on the trail as illustrated on the map) - threw out trash, bought Haagen Dazs ice cream (Mmmm!); Shaen ate a Twix and a Dr. Pepper and Tracy bought a milk for her PB sandwich
  • Used the flush toilet! How nice was that??!!
  • Hiked out of Reds' Meadow - saw the Red Cone peaks - stopped in a very buggy location for camping. Looked like it was going to storm, but didn't. We ate bread and cheese for dinner in order to avoid leaving the tent to cook.
  • Ended: 1 mile past Upper Crater Meadow (9200')


-- Day 4

  • Stopped for water at Deer Creek - still lots of bugs - hiker's friend gave us time to wash socks and bat mosquitoes
  • Pretty trail out of meadow leading up to Duck Lake outlet stream - took baths - Tracy used first toe tape - hiking in Tevas.
  • Hiked up from creek to high point above Lake Virginia - stopped and cooked extra breakfast.
  • Ran into ranger on way down to Purple Lake - he was unhappy, at first, that we had no bear canisters - perhaps we all responded too quickly and casually that we didn't have them. We felt sure we were going to receive a ticket - he even included passing hikers in our conversation about bear bottles. However, once we explained in more detail our reasoning and how we were handling our food, the ranger came around and even stated that the way we were doing it was the safest way other than a bear canister, but rangers weren't allowed to suggest this way.
  • Hiked up to Lake Virginia from Purple Lake - got water there - started hiking down steep hill to Tully Hole - started raining on way down hill - Brian and I ran at least ½ way down the hill to try and catch Tracy and Shaen - used our umbrellas near the bottom.
  • Tully Hole was awesome - totally green and full of flowers with a beautiful canyon and a huge rushing river - cool bridge over the river.
  • Started hike up to Squaw Lake (which had been recommended by the friendly ranger we earlier encountered) - finally caught Tracy and Shaen and returned filled bottle - who were high tailing it so they didn't get eaten by bugs - rain got heavier and then it started to hail (first small hail, then larger) - temperature dropped quickly - we all sat under our umbrellas under huge pine trees waiting it out - when it seemed to be letting up we started hiking on the river-like trail in order to try and get warm- hail and rain and lightening were on again off again. When we got up to the lake the weather was pretty scary still - we waited in a grove of trees while Tracy and Shaen pitched their tarp in a fairly sheltered location. Brian ran around when lightening died down a bit and found us a great site. We set up our tarp in the rain - it was great to have so much space to spread all of our wet stuff out - there were no bugs out during the storm, but they slowly began coming out as the storm and wind died down. Tracy and Shaen moved their tarp over by ours.
  • Had black beans and rice for dinner.
  • Put up a clothes line and all was dry by morning.
  • Cool view of the waxing crescent moon setting right at sunset.
  • Ended: Squaw Lake (10,240')


-- Day 5

  • Ready before Tracy and Shaen for the first time - left early and read lesson a bit higher up where it was sunny.
  • Met Tracy and Shaen at top of Silver Pass (10,895') - a bit of snow on the way up.
  • Headed down from Silver Pass - super steep section headed down to Pocket Meadow had a beautiful swimming area where we all got in the water fall and seriously scrubbed stuff.
  • After swim and a bit more of the steep section, we gradually continued to go down and got into a section that looked fairly deserty with some big pines sparsely spaced - crossed the river and all of a sudden we were in a very heavily vegetated area - it was like we had just crossed over the "west/east divide".
  • Quite a climb up by Lake Thomas A. Edison - we saw just a bit of the lake. Stopped near top for a quick snack and then headed on.
  • Back down to a pretty little creek - Bear Creek - Brian and I swam again.
  • Loads of bugs as we headed up from lower parts of Bear Creek - so many it was almost impossible to get our clothes on without getting eaten alive - we thought we should keep hiking and maybe they would get better - back up we headed - up and up and up towards Selden Pass (10,880'). Waded across a large stream (Bear Creek) on the way up Selden Pass - no rocks - water was at least knee high - got almost all the way there and stopped at Marie Lakes after a very LONG, but good day. We were really tired - the bugs were still bad but not as bad as down below.
  • Ate our chili and corn pasta in the tent - NO BUGS!!!
  • It looked like it might storm - but the night was clear.
  • Saw a few dogs at the lake.
  • Ended: Marie Lake (10,551')


-- Day 6

  • Went over Selden Pass very early - only 300 feet above where we camped
  • Met Scottish folks for the 1st time briefly at the top of the pass - they commented on our nice, light packs and asked me if I had a "beer bottle" (or so I thought they were asking with their Scottish accents - actually they were asking if I had a bear bottle - AKA a bear canister. My response probably seemed a bit strange - "Nope, too heavy")
  • Passed Heart Lake and headed down to John Muir Trail Ranch for our resupply - cooked our spaghetti for lunch while there - the lady couldn't find Tracy's package at first - but it was there - thank goodness. Tracy gave us Oreos and York Peppermint Patties! - we left a bunch of food (extra whole wheat pasta; one breakfast; lots of nuts; Molly's journal paper; 1 toilet paper)
  • Tons of buckets in the stone/rock building - there were probably at least 10-20 just to be picked up on August 9th.
  • Nice to have water available without pumping.
  • Passed turn off to Piute Pass and entered Kings Canyon National Park - passed a pack train on rocky section of trail - stopped early after bridge by San Joaquin River crossing - we were tired and did only 12.7 miles.
  • It was GREAT to have spare time in the evening - we took baths in the river even though it was raining and cool - not too many bugs - 2 other parties camped there as well - had our 1st whole group campfire - ate lentils and rice (good seasonings); had a great time meeting the Scottish folks (Garrey & Rosemary & their friend) - very funny folks.
  • Slept without our net tent - probably should have set up the net tent - we ended up sleeping with our head nets on - rodent ate through one of my mesh pouches because I forgot to move all of my food out of them. :-(
  • Had our cherry cheesecake for breakfast - shared ½ with Tracy and Shaen - they didn't want any cherries!!!
  • Ended: 1.9 miles past Piute Creek Jct.


-- Day 7

  • Headed up the hill, after crossing the river again - huge, buggy meadow at the top of the hill by the McClure Meadow Ranger Station.
  • Large stream crossing - I took my shoes off because there was no way to cross - Shaen slipped in and got his shoes a bit wet - Tracy took off her socks - Brian wore his shoes through it. Crossing was about knee high - we hiked along the river for quite a ways trying to find a place to cross without getting wet feet. Walked with the "I have to wait for my wife" man a bit.
  • Passed McClure Meadow Ranger Station without seeing the ranger.
  • Stopped for lunch by a pretty lake (Evolution Lake) - Shaen saw an older, naked lady in the lake - he was waiting for us with his umbrella up. We ate our last Oreos.
  • Hiked past a few other lakes (Sapphire & Wanda) - passed over a large stream crossing with good boulders.
  • Brian took off towards the top of the pass after the last lake. Shaen, Tracy, and I saw people on top of the hut at the top of Muir Pass - then we realized they were naked - guess that explained Brian's rush to the top. :-)
  • Had a small snack at the top of the pass. The hut at the top smelled really badly - wouldn't want to have to stay there for the night. Took pictures of the naked yoga posers with clothes on and got thanked in the form of Jolly Ranchers. :-)
  • Hiked down the other side of Muir Pass - probably the snowiest section of the whole trip - steep down with crazy sections of slate and lots of water. Brian got into the 1st lake on the other side of the pass (Helen Lake) - BRRRR!!! Our feet got really wet on the way down - it was a pretty steep down - we were glad we went down that side rather than up it.
  • Stopped to camp in Big Pete Meadow - I was READY to stop that evening. Brian and Shaen left Tracy and I at the first campsite we found and scouted out a better one with a pretty view of a meadow, good access to water, a bench and a campfire ring.
  • Very tame deer there - seemed like they were lurking around the campsite waiting for us to go to sleep at which time they would come eat any food they could find.
  • Shaen made a great campfire that evening - it was good, DEET-free mosquito repellent. We were able to dry our feet well with the fire.
  • Brian and Shaen saw another RayWay tarp on the way to the 2nd campsite.
  • 1st night we presoaked the grains - cooked them for 7 minutes rather than 15/20 - seemed much more cooked than before and used much less fuel!
  • Ended: Big Pete Meadow


-- Day 8

  • Passed the LeConte Ranger Station early and the junction to Bishop pass - no sign of the ranger.
  • Took a picture of another couple through-hiking the JMT - the lady certainly brought more toiletries than all of us combined - she had lipstick and earrings on - definitely ready for the camera.
  • Hiked through Grouse Meadows - Tracy saw 2 small snakes (she was in the lead).
  • Lost the trail for a split second at the campground near Road's End Jct.
  • Mather Pass was a long hike - 10.2 miles from the next junction. Hiked through a large section of forest which had burned in a fire - lots of pretty wildflowers had filled in the once-less sunny understory. Hike up to Palisades Lakes before Mather Pass was TOUGH - tons of switchbacks - mainly in the sun. Brian and I ate our last Snickers and some Jolly Ranchers. When we finally got to the first lake it felt GREAT to stop for water, lunch and a very cold swim. Proceeded up the pass after our stop - long ways up. Finally made it up - Tracy and Shaen were waiting at the top under the umbrellas - talking to Lopi Lopo - JMT hiker from New Hampshire - we ran into him again on Whitney. They were ready to get off the pass rather quickly so I hurried ahead down the pass (earning me the trail name Tasman) and got to the bottom significantly ahead of the group - enough time to eat some nuts and sit for a bit longer.
  • The hike down from Mather was rather smooth - not as steep as many of the other passes - we decided to eat dinner before stopping and then continue hiking until dusk
  • Good bit of smoke in the evening - looked like we were heading into a smokier area than we'd left - at campsite in evening Mather Pass looked much smokier than where we were. In the morning there appeared to be no smoke - crazy.
  • I was ready to be done with the trip on this day - wanted a little break from so much hiking, the bugs, and being dirty. Thought we were going to run out of fuel - was worried about the smoke.
  • Stopped for dinner by a relatively warm stream and Brian swam for a while - I made dinner and rinsed my feet (we had spaghetti and sauce). Continued hiking after dinner, thinking it would all be downhill - we were surprised to find that we'd misread the map and that there would be a pretty good climb near the end of the evening.
  • Great campsite at lake before Lake Marjorie - an old pine tree was tipped over and its roots were at the head of the campsite - other live pines surrounded the site - thought about only setting up the net tent, but it wasn't very tall when we were done and it was a bit cloudy, making us wonder if it would rain.
  • Presoaked grains again - this time we only cooked them for 5 minutes and let them sit after turning off the stove - worked great - plenty cooked - much less fuel.
  • Ended: ½ mile past Bench Lake turnoff


-- Day 9

  • Stopped for water at the inlet to Lake Marjorie - hiker's friend not so friendly any more - getting really slow. We waited for it to filter, but decided we needed to try the pump again - tried rinsing it off in the stream, but didn't work - Brian tried sucking air through it and couldn't get any to go through.
  • We were pretty close to the top of Pinchot Pass - not too bad of a climb from our campsite.
  • Rested and waited for Tracy and Shaen in granite boulder field after pass - nice grass intermixed with huge, flat granite boulders.
  • Hiked down, down, down - intersected Sawmill Pass Jct - this was closed due to the fire - we were relieved to know where the fire was. All the way to the suspension bridge we descended - stopped for lunch about 30 minutes before the end of the downhill.
  • After lunch, Brian and I hiked ahead to get water at the suspension bridge - pretty steep downhill - got all the way down to 8,492' from 12,130' (Pinchot Pass) - pump worked wonderfully - much faster than the hiker's friend - filter did not seem to be plugged up. Brian took a bath - AGAIN - hot, sunny day - dusty trail hiking up to Rae Lakes - we were a bit tired and seemed to make slower than normal time this day.
  • Stopped for a break headed up to Rae Lakes - I forgot my water bottle at one stop and we debated whether or not we should go back to get it.
  • We were excited when we finally arrived at Dollar Lake - saw a man and his wife with traditional gear who laughed at our umbrellas and then shot off down the trail - seemed like they had to prove they could hike faster - they stopped at Arrowhead Lake - we kept on going to Rae Lakes - there were 3 lakes and it took a while to get around all of them - passed the ranger headed in to his cabin for the evening - if we'd passed a few minutes earlier we might have run into him. Headed around to the first lake - wanted to be close to Glenn Pass in the morning (we hoped to get over Glenn and Forester the next day). I rinsed off in the lake (so did Tracy ) - Shaen and Brian worked on setting up camp.
  • Windy evening at the lakes - wind whipped through the end of the tarp - we couldn't find a site where we could set the tarp up perpendicular to the wind.
  • Tracy and Shaen made their cheesecake and we split it - it was tough to eat both the cheesecake and the grains for breakfast - chili and corn pasta for dinner.
  • Ended: Rae Lakes


-- Day 10

  • Left early this morning - at the top of Glenn Pass by 8:30am - this pass was much easier than we remembered - probably because it was a fairly short up and because we'd done so many other passes (...and our packs were so much lighter than the last time we'd been over it!). Beautiful views of rugged mountains and Rae Lakes' basin from the top of Glenn Pass
  • Made great time in the morning - in the vicinity of the Charlotte Lake Ranger Station without running into a ranger. Headed down from Glenn Pass and through a bunch of short trail junctions. Went down steeply into Vidette Meadow - we could see the whole valley we were about to hike up headed to Forester Pass.
  • Started climbing again after a nice flat section along the creek - Shaen put out someone's campfire which was left smoldering. Brian and I hiked ahead and got water - met a couple who had missed the turn to their fishing site as well as a chatty man from PA - he would later save us from a ranger encounter. Steep climb after water to base of pass - stopped to make lunch (spaghetti & sauce) at campgrounds before the pass - Tracy and Shaen had burritos with leftover red beans and rice - pretty little meadow with a stream by these campsites. On the way to these sites we saw a pile of bear scat which looked a bit different than normal and had a candy wrapper in it - we wondered how the bear had gotten a wrapped candy bar - later we heard from folks at the lake after Guitar Lake that there was a bear who frequented the Forester Pass campsites and knew how to get into Bear Vault canisters. Apparently this bear jumped and pounded on the clear canisters until it got the lid to pop off. A man named Kevin we met the upcoming night had watched a bear do this and had thrown a rock at him. Then they moved their food to the field away from their campsites - in the morning it looked like the bear had played soccer with them - and the bear had only messed with the canisters it knew it could get into.
  • Long, steep hike up Forester pass - but we made great time - the trail wasn't too rocky.
  • Tracy shared her Snickers with all of us at the top of the pass - we all hung out at the top for 20-30 minutes. Surprisingly, it wasn't windy at all, even though it had been quite windy on the ascent.
  • The downhill was CRAZY!!! Very steep - we wondered how the trail had been made.
  • Brian and I got water at the bottom of the steep downhill section; we all stopped a bit further along to decide what we should do that evening - decided to stop somewhere around Tyndall Creek Ranger Station
  • Shaen (Pixie) kicked it into high speed gear and took off - Tracy, Brian, and I all hiked together - saw our first views of Whitney - noticed some cumulus clouds moving in over the top of the ridge and were glad we'd made it over the pass that day.
  • Hike down was fairly gradual and we stopped at Tyndall Creek area - there was a bear box, so we didn't sleep with our food for the first time during the trip. We slept in the next morning since we didn't have too much mileage to cover the upcoming day.
  • Brian took a bath (yet again) in the creek - I took a less-cold version of a bath and lost a sock on the way down to the river - could never find it in the boulder field.
  • Tracy and Shaen were so sleepy they almost went to bed with no dinner - Brian woke them up so they wouldn't miss dinner.
  • Ended: 7 miles before Tyndall Creek


-- Day 11

  • Cloudy when we woke up - chilly with no sun.
  • Crazy, high desert, not-so-vegetated zone before we ran into the ranger. Not many trees.
  • Ran into a ranger heading down to Wallace Creek - our talky friend was chatting with her and she couldn't talk to us as we passed. We hiked steadily and quickly for an hour or so after the encounter, hoping she wouldn't come to chat with us. She didn't.
  • Had lunch at the lake before Guitar Lake ( Timberline Lake ) - filtered water - dreamed of Amigo's the next day for lunch - Shaen & Tracy shared their peanut butter with us - it made our cardboard crackers much more tasty.
  • Hiked up past Guitar Lake and debated whether or not we should hike up Whitney - we couldn't figure out if the clouds were going to rain that day or the next or not at all. We decided to wait since it was late in the day. If we had not slept in perhaps our decision would have been easier since we would have had a bit more time to ascend before night fall.
  • Pitched the tarp lower than we ever had - no sticks for the ridge line - only rock towers. You had to slither under the tarp on your belly - but with the clouds we were glad we were able to set it up.
  • Cooked our last 2 breakfasts to be eaten on the summit of Whitney the following day at sunrise - we were planning on hiking up at 2am to be on the summit by sunrise.
  • Started raining at 11:00pm and didn't stop all night - it rained very hard - no water issues except in bottom corner we had a bit of puddling - Brian had to get out and tighten the tarp part way through the night as the material stretched in the water.
  • The lightening was strange - it was visible over the ridge, but you would hear no thunder - eventually the storm would move over the mountain and you'd hear lots of thunder. The rain was freezing rain in the morning.
  • Ended: Lake above Guitar Lake (11,600')


-- Day 12

  • Still raining - and it was a cold rain. We sat in our tent for quite a while debating whether or not we should get up. Realizing we'd never get to Amigo's if we didn't get up, we packed up our stuff in the rain at about 6:00 a.m. and set off up the ridge.
  • The higher we got, the more snow there was. Fortunately we had our umbrellas and our lightweight clothes because we had a 2000 foot climb to the top of the ridge and if we'd had to wear more clothes it would have been extremely hot.
  • The Way-of-Life grains we cooked the night with the intent of eating them on the summit sat in my pack the entire trip - it was too wet and cold to eat breakfast. All we wanted to do was start hiking.
  • At the top of the ridge we had to decide whether or not to turn uphill and do the 2.5 miles to the summit. Because of the snow we decided to descend rather than head up to the peak. This was a bit disappointing, but it seemed better to be safe then to trek on up and run into wind or white-out conditions.
  • Heading down, the trail was completely invisible - no one had gone down or come up that side yet, so Shaen served as our sherpa and led the way down. The snow was really slushy and slippery, especially as we got a bit further down where the temperature was a little warmer. As we started passing folks heading up the side of Whitney we were headed down, the trail became especially slippery. We even ran into a group of kids who, as we found out later, had taken off without permission from their group. The leader with whom we later spoke was going to have to head up the mountain against his wishes in order to try and track down the kids.
  • The descent went pretty quickly. If we'd summitted we would have had to descend 6200 feet - but since we didn't make it to the top we only descended about 5000 feet - still quite a downhill!!! It would definitely be easier to summit Whitney from the side we camped on then from the Owens Valley Side.
  • It was very obvious that it had rained extremely hard on the Owens Valley side of the ridge as well as on the side we'd camped on. There were huge puddles and the trail resembled a river for much of the way down.
  • Crazy bathrooms at the upper campground - had toilets which suggested that you only go "#2" - yeah right - and that you pack out your waste rather than using the toilet. Interesting! Guess it's an important consideration at a campsite where there is absolutely no vegetation and where many individuals stay each night..but still.
  • Picked up pinecones on the way down - huge pinecones.
  • Whitney Portal had a serious face lift since Brian had last seen it - there was a station where you could weigh your pack - ours both registered at 15 pounds (wet with a huge pot of cooked grains) - I think they were actually a bit lighter.
  • The mountains were socked in - as we drove down the road to Lone Pine, they disappeared behind us, not to reappear for another day. Even the valley was cloudy and raining - and cool - appropriate for our snowy weather hiking apparel.
  • Shaen, aka speedy driver (not really), was kind enough to chauffeur us to Amigo's for our first real food in almost 2 weeks. WOW!!! The poor restaurant had to bring us 4 baskets of chips, but boy was the food great. I was STARVING and stayed hungry for almost a week afterwards - the poor Lawrence 's were virtually eaten out of house and home. :-)
  • Ended: Whitney Portal!


-- Molly & Brian Lawrence

Shaen, Tracy, Molly, & Brian

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